3 Reasons Why INFJ Empaths Fall Prey to Narcissists

Anyone can fall prey to toxic people such as a malignant narcissist or sociopath. These are people who have very little empathy combined with an excessive sense of entitlement, false sense of superiority, and a tendency to be interpersonally exploitative for their own gain. That being said, it is interesting to note that INFJs were represented as one of the biggest groups to be on forums such as PsychopathFree.com, a support forum for survivors of narcissists, sociopaths, and psychopaths.

(What’s your personality type? We recommend this free personality test.)

The dynamic between empaths and narcissists has been explored in numerous articles, but what about the INFJ empath? It may seem bizarre that one of the most “authentic” personality types could end up with someone who is inauthentic and superficially charming. But there are reasons why they may (initially) gravitate towards each other.

Let’s explore how the traits of an INFJ empath interact with the traits of a narcissist–and how, like any other personality type, we can be both vulnerable to narcissists as well as empowered by what we’ve learned from our experiences with them.

1. As natural perfectionists, INFJs seek the “ultimate relationship.”

According to PersonalityPage.com, INFJs are idealists. They place a high value on the few people they invite into their private inner worlds. When INFJs seek the ultimate relationship, their heart is in the right place–they only want what they know deep down they deserve–a person who respects and honors them as they are.

To an INFJ, the narcissist’s love-bombing (a period of excessive idealization and “grooming” that a narcissist subjects a victim to) may initially represent the ultimate high of a perfect relationship. The INFJ finally gets the affection, adoration, and attention they may not be getting from other sources.

As lovers of communication, INFJs may initially be charmed by the narcissist’s ability to be a cunning wordsmith. Like any other personality type, they can be susceptible to the toxic person’s “false mask” of seeming vulnerability and innocent admiration. But once an INFJ has learned all the tricks and tools of such charlatans, they are able to differentiate between authentic interest and an inauthentic agenda.

2. INFJs have a tendency to want to “fix” others.

The compassion and empathy of an INFJ empath is an enormous strength of this sensitive personality type. Yet sometimes INFJs run the risk of going beyond just helping someone and serving as a catalyst for their growth. Instead, they try to “fix” a toxic person who doesn’t take accountability for their own healing.

If you’re an INFJ who has been emotionally abused by narcissistic parents or a toxic partner, please know that it is not your fault. Your sensitivity and empathy may have been exploited by a toxic person, but that doesn’t mean that these are not some of your greatest gifts to give the world. It simply means that we should use our empathy in a more discerning way, towards the people who won’t use it for their own agenda.

Know that there are genuine people out there who won’t take advantage of your empathy and will be grateful for your support. You don’t have to break your own boundaries to meet the excessive needs and expectations of toxic people.

3. INFJs avoid conflict and are highly sensitive to criticism.

Since INFJs tend to skirt conflict whenever possible, they may feel themselves starting to walk on eggshells around a toxic partner. Any survivor of abuse—emotional or physical—can get caught up in this because of the effects of trauma. However, INFJs may be even more prone to rationalizing, denying, and minimizing the behavior of their abusers in order to “keep the peace.”

Narcissists may gaslight the INFJ into thinking that any abuse or mistreatment is “all in their heads,” when in fact their sensitivity is alerting them to potential danger. Abusive partners, family members, or friends may tell the victimized INFJ that they’re being “too sensitive.” It is true that INFJs can be highly sensitive, but they are also able to think critically and recognize when their boundaries have been crossed.

If the INFJ does speak up, they may later find themselves wanting to apologize for their words. The problem is, when you apologize to a toxic person who hurts you continually, regardless of any long-winded discussions about their behavior, you ignore the inner voice that tells you that this relationship is not okay. You begin to realize that you are not the sensitive one–they, in fact, are the insensitive ones—even though toxic people can have very sensitive egos and can rage when they don’t get what they want.

How to Protect Yourself From a Narcissist

How can you protect yourself from a narcissist? One way is to hold true to yourself and your expectations for a good relationship, without expecting that everyone who initially seems like an ideal match is in fact the ideal. In many cases, compassionate love builds slowly, like a friendship, and the sudden spark of chemistry does not necessarily represent the authenticity of a long-term romance.

As an INFJ, one of our biggest challenges is learning to honor ourselves and our instincts above the appearance of the ideal—in order to achieve the real thing.

Extricating Yourself From a Toxic Situation

If there’s a narcissist in your life, it may seem impossible to extricate yourself from the relationship. But there’s good news: INFJs can call upon their fiery spirits to counteract a toxic situation with a narcissist. INFJs are also driven to end injustice, so much that they may go to the extreme of cutting any person who exhibits toxic behavior out of their lives without a second thought. INFJs can use their stubbornness to their advantage when cutting ties with toxic people, if they are willing to confront conflict head-on. Only then can they get the healthy lives they truly deserve.

It’s important to remember that it is not an INFJ’s sensitivity or willingness to call out mistreatment that is the problem when it comes to the dynamic between an INFJ and a toxic person. Rather, an INFJ’s sensitivity allows them to “feel” on a deep intuitive level when someone is toxic, or even a malignant narcissist, sociopath, or psychopath.

Your sensitivity can act as an intuitive radar for when toxicity is present. So while it’s good to take a step back and mindfully note your reaction to someone, remember that as an INFJ, you also have a deep connection to your intuition. And, you may be more likely than other personality types to pick up toxic vibes early on.

So what does this all mean? It means that as an INFJ, you can trust your inner voice, for it can be your greatest friend and source of salvation from dangerous situations. As a healer, you don’t need to be a constant “fixer” in order to change the world. As a sensitive being, you don’t need to dismiss your sensitivity as paranoia, when it is in fact one of your greatest intuitive tools. And as an empath, you can still be compassionate towards others from a distance.

You don’t have to tolerate toxicity, mistreatment, or abuse by anyone simply to keep the peace. Really, the most loving, empathic thing you can do for others and the world is to hold others accountable for healing themselves. By doing so, you can continue to heal your life and the world.

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Read this: 21 Undeniable Signs That You’re an INFJ retina_favicon1

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  • Emma says:

    God I needed to read this today. Thank you!

  • trijnewijn says:

    How do you know my mother? Thanks for this article. Now that she’s trying to get closer to me once more, I really needed to read this.

  • Rogue says:

    Thank you.

  • Destroyed daughter says:

    Raised by one. Dated some. Had some as friends. Extremely toxic people, but especially to an INFJ. No contact is often the only way to get peace when dealing with a person who lacks empathy and acts in malignant, manipulative ways. Save yourselves; you can’t save them. They will never see, let alone own their faults.

  • Sherlyn Frank says:

    This article was an answer to my prayers. Thank You!@

  • The affirmation is uplifting. Thank you.

  • Lauren says:

    This article is spot on! My (ex) best friend of 15+ years is absolutely a narcissist and would constantly just rip me to shreds as a person and then say my perceptions of her (acts towards me) were “all in my head.” Even though it was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, I ended our friendship a little over two months ago and I have NO desire to ever start it back up. It’s a sad situation but she apologizes to no one and made it clear she wouldn’t change either way. It was the best choice for my sanity and it’s nice to read articles like this and realize that there’s people out there who actually do understand my pov.

  • Kara says:

    This is a fantastic article!

  • Rosemary says:

    Thank you for this. I spent so long and gave so much to try to heal someone who hurt me so much. This was really needed to remind me that even if my empathy was abused that does not mean it is a weakness. And a needed reminder that I need to trust my instincts and honor my boundaries.

  • Marylander says:

    I’m an INTJ and also a highly sensitive person.
    This article is very helpful!

  • Amy J says:

    I am also an infj whom has been raised by a narcissistic mother and was married to a dangerous narcissistic man. My biggest challenge continues to be coparenting with him now as the courts and child services were also fooled by his charm. It is exhausting at times doing 100% of the parenting, responsibilities and damage control in the 50% of the time that they are in my care. My mother also capitalizes and attempts to sabatoge my life as a single parent, flying into rages when I cannot ‘be there’ for her at her every request. She then comes back at me, sarcastically apologizing, and putting on the persona as the bigger person, then blaming me for keeping her captive until I express my forgiveness.
    Distancing is the only way I keep sanity. It is just so hard when they both put I a show to the kids, causing tremendous confusion for them as to why I desire to not be in their company.

    Thanks for listening.

  • I am so happy to hear it was helpful to you! ❤

  • No Contact with narcissistic parents can be very challenging, but it is often necessary to preserve our own well-being. Blessings ❤

  • You’re absolutely right. INFJs can be affected immensely by these toxic types, given the level of trauma that is involved. Saving ourselves is paramount. Blessings ❤

  • I am so happy to hear it was helpful to you, Sherlyn! 🙂 Blessings ❤

  • So happy to hear it! Blessings ❤ 🙂

  • I am so sorry you experienced this pain with your friend, Lauren. Grateful to hear you have walked away from that which no longer serves you. Someone who does not take responsible for their toxicity and refuses to evolve, is not someone who can be in your life in any healthy way. Please be sure to check out my blog, Self-Care Haven (link in bio) if you want to learn more about the impact of toxic narcissists and their manipulative tactics. Blessings ❤

  • I am so happy to hear this was validating to you, Rosemary. Your empathy is an immense gift, and while it can be exploited by toxic types, it does not make it any less valuable. Keep on honoring your boundaries and trusting your inner voice! 🙂 ❤

  • debi says:

    OMG! Been there, done that! My ex-husband did all of those things, including gas lighting to me. And everyone thinks he’s a great guy.

  • Hayley says:

    I was able to pinpoint the behaviours in a most event relationship as being covert vulnerable type . This erupted into devalue and discard, online smearing campaigns, flying monkeys, etc. I have been susceptible to these predatory people in a previous relationship, also in the workplace…I. also had two disordered parents. I am an empath and an lFNJ . I was devalued and discarded in the summer- at the height of an extremely difficult time in my life.. (calculated) .
    Of all the things l find difficult is this support for the perpetrator, that he has a well laid path on social media of admiration (he is an artist in the public eye). Nothing stood out within his carefully contrived world…is a social media full of glowing praise at his compassion, kindness .
    One of the things that disturbed me the most was the feeling that l simply made him into a better abuser. He used each and every bullet from a gun that l handed him- after having confided in him as to mistreatment of the past.
    I think of the next person to fall into the trap. I think of the recommendations l wasn’t able to delete before l was blocked on some sites..
    Mostly l feel soul level raped…. l believe karma will do the rest.
    Don’t walk away -RUN – These people will never change.
    I wish everybody well on their healing journey.

  • Hi Hayley, I am so sorry you went through this. You may want to search for my article, “The Secret Language of Narcissists, Sociopaths and Psychopaths,” which goes into greater detail about how narcissists use our past wounds (and our disclosure of them) against us. Hugs and blessings to you, warrior <3

  • Debi, I am so sorry you went through this…unfortunately, a narcissist’s false mask can be quite persuasive to the public. But, the mask does slip. Not everyone will buy into the facade once they’ve seen the true self. Hugs and blessings to you warrior <3 🙂

  • Lex - says:

    People need to take responsibility for themselves and their actions, forget about trying to help people who are clinically diagnosed with a Cluster B personality types, such as; Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD), Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Anti-Social Personality Disorder (ASPD [sub categories are sociopath and psychopath]) and Historonic Personality Disorder (HPD).

    1. We try to, “fix” them. This isn’t, “our” job as HSPs. We, “must” realize this. If an individual didn’t give us the consent and have full knowledge of what we were really going to do, it’s then known as psychic vampirism and some cases it’s astral vampirism. This is a no-no! Interfering with someone’s energy field / aura without prior knowledge and consent from that person, is considered hostile intent / activity; your hostile actions will be met with like action, just be aware of this from this day forward.

    2. We, “believe” that if we don’t, “fix” them, that we’re a, “failure”. This is a fallacy, that we as HSP must remember. We are here to learn, just like everyone else on this planet. We are here to learn by adjusting our vibration so that we no longer attract those are disordered that had a vibrational match we had before. If you learned your lesson from the previous time, there’s no reason to stay at that vibrational frequency, it’s time to re-tune and move onwards / upwards.

    3. That we HSPs aren’t falling victim to people with personality disorders. We, “complement” each other. Each person’s abilities and deficits within our own souls attract those who need to learn something. That means, yes, us HSPs are just as disordered as those with Cluster B personality types. We need to stop saying we’re victims, then survivors. You put yourself in this position to learn from it, stop it with the victim mentality, it’s self-defeating, it also it lower your vibrational rate, it doesn’t raising it.

    A hint about wanting to fix people; that’s the same thing as molding someone in your own image, what you believe it the correct pattern, let alone vibrational rate; which is control. People with Cluster B personality disorder do the same thing but on a physical and mental level, versus that of psychic and astral level that HSPs use. This is what people need to realize. HSPs want to play the blame game, blaming it on the other person that has a personality disorder. Stop pointing fingers and fix yourself, do the shadow work necessary to clean up your own act. When you’re cleaned up, people with personality disorders lose interest in your fairly quickly. In other words, they no longer have a foothold in your soul nor can they find one. Also, when you fix yourself, you’ll not want to “fix” them but just walk away. Everyone is responsible for their own growth and enrichment, yes, even HSPs.

    { A note to the author of this article, Shahida Arabi. Please don’t sugar coat anymore posts, it does more damage than good. Your readers need to take full responsibility in the role and part they play in their relationships. The blame game must stop here; no more victims / survivors and perpetrator. Besides, that’s black and white thinking, that too is quite common with Cluster B personality types. When you identify the same characteristics in your soul that are features of each of the personality disorders, one must learn discernment. How to rid themselves of those bad personality traits, then to fill it in with something worthwhile. If you leave it as a void, it will inadvertently be used to attract your opposite with another void in a different area, needing to be filled. Be mindful! }

  • Euclid says:

    This is so spot-on. I’m dealing with this exact scenario.

  • Lukáš Krajíček says:

    I am in a tram right now and reading this. After “a while” I will embrace what happened o me but … I just wanted to help so much and I thought I could move the Universe and help her. I did not realize that we are global helpers …

  • Laurie Monks says:

    So on spot!!! Wow. That is how it has been for so long. It’s such a shame that such sweet souls as us, and highly intelligent people as we are, get treated like we are stupid and worthless. Shame on those toxic people.

  • Timothée Ambroise Pierre Hayes says:

    Sounds like the case of an immature INFJ but since we are very intuitive and always able to cut toxic people out of our lives, while we may get sucked into such scenarios briefly, I don’t we INFJ are the ones least scathed by encounters with sociopaths, narcissists or psychopaths.